An unexpected Christmas storm buried parts of New York and Pennsylvania with more than six feet of snow that took days to dig out from.  While this part of the country is accustomed to seeing a lot of snowfall in a short amount of time, this storm was almost too much for even the most-seasoned residents to contend with.

Not only did roads become impassable, but dozens of people were trapped in their homes as snow drifts piled up outside of their doors and windows.  There were even a couple of cases where rescuers needed the help of excavation companies to provide backhoes in order to dig people out.  Fortunately, there were no reports of roofs collapsing or widespread power outages that would have made problems worse, and most people were rescued within a day after the snow stopped falling.

Plan Ahead

While these types of storms are rare, they can wreak havoc on communities when they occur.  This is why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, just to be safe.  Imagine waking up and finding that you can’t open your door, or maybe your roof collapses from the weight of the snow.  How would you manage if you were trapped inside for a few days?  What would you do if the power or phone service goes out?  What would you do if your pipes freeze or crack from the cold?

Prepare Wisely

These are just a few examples of problems that are commonly-associated with severe winter storms and why it’s so important to factor them into your emergency planning.  While some people do what they can to prepare at the last minute once they know a storm is on the way, like getting some extra food from the store or gassing up their vehicles, they may not do much good if someone can’t get out of their driveway or use their stove for cooking.   However, having a good survival kit or two on hand can provide you with access to resources that can be used immediately to help keep you safe, fed and warm until you can get dug out.  Consequently, it’s important to be prepared for the possibility that you will need to fend for yourself for an extended period of time.

Think About Various Contingencies

Take some time to think about how you would cope with not being able to cook or get access to fresh water.  Consider how you could keep you and your family warm if the heater breaks down.  What would you do if someone gets injured or becomes sick but help can’t make it to your location?  These are good questions to start with, but think of others along similar lines as well.  This will help you to  paint a picture of what kind of items you’ll need in order to be able to hunker down for a few days.

Let this freak storm serve as a reminder of the importance of being prepared for the unexpected.  While there may be little that you can do to avoid getting buried under a mountain of snow, the more you plan now can make life a lot easier to manage when that time comes.